Sunday, March 29, 2020

Joe Diffie

This one is hard. Just one day after the passing of Jan Howard, Grand Ole Opry member Joe Diffie has passed away at the age of 61.

Joe Diffie, a consistent country-music hitmaker throughout the Nineties, died Sunday due to complications related to COVID-19. His publicist confirmed the death to Rolling Stone. Diffie was 61.

With a traditional-leaning voice that drew comparisons to George Jones, Diffie populated his records with honky-tonk ballads and lighthearted novelty tunes, earning the Oklahoma native five Number One singles in the first half of the Nineties. These began with his debut release, the deeply moving “Home,” followed by “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” “Third Rock From the Sun,” “Pickup Man,” and “Bigger Than the Beatles.” In all, Diffie charted 18 Top Ten singles, with the majority reaching the Top Five, including the 1993 radio staples “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)” and “John Deere Green.”

The singer was famously name-checked, as were a number of his best-known songs, in Jason Aldean’s 2013 single “1994.” “There are plenty of singers in this town, but not many with a range like his,” Diffie’s fellow Opry star Vince Gill told People magazine in 1993.

Joseph Logan Diffie was born in Tulsa and raised in the tiny community of Velma, Oklahoma. In the intervening years, the Diffie family lived in San Antonio, Washington state, and Wisconsin. His father, who held jobs as a teacher, rancher, truck driver, and welder, had musical tastes that ran more toward traditional country, but Diffie learned about harmony singing by working in gospel and bluegrass groups, including, respectively, Higher Purpose and Special Edition. Diffie also played bars, VFW halls, and honky-tonks as a solo act in Duncan, Oklahoma, where he lived with his wife and children while working in a local foundry. He also partnered with his father to run a small recording studio.

After the closing of the foundry and the dissolution of his first marriage, Diffie relocated to Nashville in 1986, implementing a five-year plan to make it in the music business. There, he took a job with the Gibson guitar company and also began singing on countless demos and writing songs.

In 1988, country legend Hank Thompson cut the Diffie composition “Love on the Rocks.” In 1989, Diffie co-wrote and sang backing vocals on Holly Dunn’s Top Five single “There Goes My Heart Again.”

Signed to Epic Records, Diffie released his debut LP, A Thousand Winding Roads, in 1990. The album produced his inaugural hit, “Home,” which set a record by becoming the first debut single to reach the top of the country charts on all three trade publications at the time: Billboard, Gavin, and Radio & Records. Opening for acts including George Strait and Steve Wariner, Diffie continued his hit streak with six Top Five singles in a row, one of which, 1992’s somber “Ships That Don’t Come In,” would likely have gone to Number One but for its use of the word “bitch” in the lyrics.

In 1993, the year he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, Diffie released the platinum-selling LP Honky-Tonk Attitude, followed by 1994’s Third Rock From the Sun, which was also certified platinum. Following moves to Monument and Broken Bow Records, Diffie signed with the Rounder label, returning to his bluegrass roots with Homecoming.

In 1998, he won a Grammy award for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for the all-star recording “Same Old Train” with Merle Haggard, Clint Black, Emmylou Harris, and more.

In 2013, Diffie and two of his country contemporaries, Aaron Tippin and Sammy Kershaw, teamed for the collaborative album All in the Same Boat. In July 2019, he released the honky-tonk tune “As Long as There’s a Bar,” and in November issued his first-ever vinyl LP, Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie, featuring updated versions of 11 of his hits and a cover of the Stevie Ray Vaughan tune “Pride and Joy.”

Representative of his workingman persona, Diffie took a no-nonsense approach to his craft. “I just like the songs themselves,” he told Rolling Stone in 2019. “Finding songs I really liked and that I related to. Really, it’s not any more complicated than that.”

Prayers and thoughts to Joe's family and friends.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Opry Legend Jan Howard

Singer-songwriter Jan Howard, known as one of “The Grand Ladies of the Grand Ole Opry,” has passed away at age 91.

During her long career, Jan Howard was a recording star, a hit writer, a member of Johnny Cash’s troupe, Patsy Cline’s demo singer, Bill Anderson’s duet partner, Harlan Howard’s wife and business co-owner, Tammy Wynette’s confidant and Wynn Stewart’s disc collaborator, as well as a matriarch of the Opry cast.

Her big solo hits included “The One You Slip Around With” (1960), “Bad Seed” (1966) and the Grammy-nominated singles “Evil On Your Mind” (1966) and “My Son” (1968). While working on the West Coast, she recorded such 1958-60 duets as “Wrong Company,” “How the Other Half Lives” and “Yankee Go Home” with Wynn Stewart.

Her hit Anderson duets in Nashville included “For Loving You” (1967), “If It’s All the Same to You” (1969), “Someday We’ll Be Together” (1970) and “Dis-Satisfied” (1971). She was also a member of Bill Anderson’s road show and TV series cast for seven seasons.

In addition, Howard logged a number of years as an “honorary” member of Mother Maybelle & The Carter Sisters. In this capacity, she can be clearly heard warbling, “Mama sang tenor” on the memorable 1969 Johnny Cash hit “Daddy Sang Bass.”

She also authored one of country music’s most compelling autobiographies, Sunshine and Shadow (1987). She said that she wrote it as therapy when she became suicidal. That is understandable: Howard had much trauma to heal via the book. Her saga included rape, spousal abuse, bigamy, poverty, war fatality, infidelity, divorce, suicide, financial ruin and mental illness.

She was born Lula Grace Johnson in 1930, the eighth of the 11 children of an impoverished farm couple during the Great Depression. Raised near West Plains, MO, she was enthralled by Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts as a girl and fantasized about being a country singer.

Howard recalled being raped at age 8 by one of her father’s friends. She kept it a secret from her family. She dropped out of school to marry at age 16. Her husband beat her viciously and tried to kill her. She fled with their three sons and had a nervous breakdown. Following her 1953 divorce, she wed a military man who turned out to be already married. This time, she and her boys got on a bus headed for California.

On the West Coast, she met and married aspiring songwriter Harlan Howard (1927-2002) in 1957. After two miscarriages, she had a hysterectomy at age 27. During her recovery, Harlan heard her singing as she washed dishes one evening. Painfully shy, it was one of the first times she had ever sung in front of someone.

Harlan was so excited by his discovery that he taped Jan singing his song “Mommy For a Day” and sent the result to Nashville. Kitty Wells had a hit with the song in 1958. Jan was soon constantly in the studio recording demos of her husband’s tunes.

Harlan believed that his wife could record hits, herself. When she signed with Challenge Records, the label changed “Grace” to “Jan.” She recorded Harlan’s “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down” and “I Wish I Could Fall in Love Today” in 1958-59. Both later became country standards.

During these early years, she and influential West Coast honky-tonk star Wynn Stewart (1934-1985) recorded their duets. Jan scored her first solo hit with Harlan’s “The One You Slip Around With” in 1960.

The Howards moved to Nashville later that year. Despite chart success for her as a singer and for him as a writer, anxiety plagued Jan Howard. She developed phobias of heights, open spaces and the dark, as well as crippling stage fright. Harlan institutionalized her, and she went into therapy.

Because of her hit, Jan began getting calls to do guest appearances on the Opry. The show’s Jean Shepard (1933-2016), Skeeter Davis (1931-2004) and, especially, Patsy Cline (1932-1963) welcomed, comforted and befriended her. Jan sang Harlan’s song demos that became Patsy’s records, including “I Fall to Pieces,” “When I Get Through With You,” “That’s When Your Heartache Begins,” “You Took Him Off My Hands” and “He Called Me Baby.”

Patsy Cline recorded for Decca Records. The label’s Owen Bradley (1915-1998) was impressed with Jan’s demos. He signed her to a Nashville recording contract and became her producer. Bradley was an architect of a style of country recording known as The Nashville Sound.

Unlike most of her ballad-singing contemporaries, Jan’s version of The Nashville Sound featured up-tempo tunes. She brought brass and sass to the style. Despite her chronic inner doubts, insecurities and fears, she frequently expressed assertiveness, self-confidence and spunk in her recorded performances.

Harlan Howard wrote many of Jan’s singles of the 1960s, including “I Wish I Was a Single Girl Again” (1963), “What Makes a Man Wander” (1965), “Evil On Your Mind” (her biggest hit, 1966), “Time Out” (1966) and “Any Old Way You Do” (1967). But the marriage unraveled after she became aware of his infidelities. Jan said that Harlan duped her out of her half of their song publishing business before their divorce in 1967.

Now her singing became an economic necessity. Opry star Bill Anderson supplied her with the songs “Bad Seed” (1966), “Count Your Blessings Woman” (1968), “I Still Believe in Love” (1968) and “The Soul You Never Had” (1970), as well as most of their duets.

Jan was a songwriter, too. She wrote the Kitty Wells hit “It’s All Over But the Crying” (1966) and Bill Anderson’s hit “Love Is a Sometimes Thing” (1970), as well as her own singles “Marriage Has Ruined More Good Love Affairs” (1971) and “Life of a Country Girl Singer” (1981).

She and Anderson co-wrote their hit 1971 duet “Dis-Satisfied,” as well as Connie Smith’s 1970 hit “I Never Once Stopped Loving You.” Her songs “Ring the Bells for Jim” and “Christmas As I Knew It” were recorded by Johnny Cash. She wrote “Wherever You Are,” for Jean Shepard. She wrote songs recorded by Conway Twitty, The Osborne Brothers, Tammy Wynette and others.

Jan also wrote 1968’s “My Son,” a moving recitation that began as a letter to her son serving in Vietnam. Despite her reservations, Anderson insisted she record it. She wept throughout the recording session. This mother’s plea for the safe return of her boy was on the market for just two weeks when Jan’s son Jimmy was killed in the war.

During her mourning, Jan got more than 5,000 letters from soldiers and their parents, saying how much the Grammy-nominated single meant to them. She was never able to perform it live.
Four years later, her youngest son David committed suicide at age 21. A singer, dancer and actor, he had been a performer at the Opryland theme park.

June Carter (1929-2003) and Johnny Cash (1932-2003) helped the devastated Jan to cope with her losses by taking her on the road with them. She also sang backup on such Cash hits as “Ghost Riders In the Sky,” “Gone Girl” and “I Will Rock and Roll With You,” as well as “Daddy Sang Bass.”

Next, Tammy Wynette (1942-1998) hired Jan in 1980 to become a member of her ensemble as a backup singer. This troupe toured internationally, and the two women remained close thereafter.
Jan Howard’s 1987 autobiography was/is a testament to the survival of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming tragedy. She always maintained that it wasn’t a show-business book. Rather, she viewed it as the story of a woman who endured despite adversity.

In the 1990s and 2000s, Jan became ever more active in veterans’ issues. She campaigned for the establishment of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. and has been a spokesperson for the Veteran’s Administration and for several Armed Forces charities.

During her recording career, Jan Howard placed 30 titles on the country hit parade. She issued 15 albums between 1960 and 1986. She became a Grand Ole Opry cast member in 1971. Her trumpet-like tones were a fixture on the Opry stage for more than four decades thereafter. Along with Jean Shepard, Connie Smith and Jeannie Seely, Jan Howard was dubbed one of “The Grand Ladies of the Grand Ole Opry” during her later years.

She is survived by one of her three sons, Carter A. Howard and his wife Pamela, two grandchildren, Mitsi H. Lindsay (Keith), Anita H. Simpson (Travis), and three great-grandchildren, Cole, Alli and Charlie.

On a personal note, I can tell you that Jan was a wonderful and kind lady. Friday was her 49th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Grand Ole Opry 3/27 & 3/28

After last week's fine Grand Ole Opry that featured Vince Gill, Marty Stuart and Brad Paisley, Vince is back again this Saturday night for the show that will be on Circle, along with streaming on Facebook and YouTube.

Actually, it will be a family affair on Saturday as Vince will be joined by his wife, Amy Grant, along with daughters Jenny Gill and Corrina Grant Gill. As with the show last week, Bobby Bones again will be the host for those watching on video and it would appear that Billy Cody will handle the duties on WSM.

The streak continues as this will be the 4,917th consecutive Saturday night show.

I have been reading a few comments about about the Opry only having a one hour show and the lack of artists appearing. Let's be honest. These are difficult times and many of the Opry's members have been following the recommendations to stay home and practice social distancing. In no way would I expect any of the senior members to risk their health, or the health of their family, to appear on the show.

Also taken into account is the acoustical nature of these shows, with limited musicians on stage. This basically eliminates the majority of bluegrass acts, along with members such as Old Crow Medicine Show or Riders In The Sky. This type of format just doesn't work well for those.

Finally, there are a number of Opry members who live outside of the Nashville area. They are safely at home and are not going to risk flying to Nashville for an appearance on the Opry.

I applaud Vince for stepping forward to appear again this week on the Opry, as well as bringing his family with him. It again shows Vince's commitment to the Opry, and also his willingness to help out the show while others stay on the sidelines protecting themselves.

It will be interesting in the weeks and months ahead as the Opry tries to sustain itself going forward. There might be some difficult weeks going forward and in times like these, we need to continue to support the show. So instead of complaining about who isn't there, let's appreciate who is.

And now, here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from 25 years ago, the last Saturday in March 1995:

Saturday March 25
1st show
6:30: Bill Monroe (host); Stonewall Jackson
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Jan Howard
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jack Greene; Alison Krauss; Charlie Louvin; Jean Shepard
7:30: Holly Dunn (host); Del Reeves; Nashville Bluegrass Band; Vestal Goodman
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Hank Locklin; Jeanne Pruett; Ricky Skaggs; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Charlie Walker; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Holly Dunn; Jean Shepard; Vestal Goodman
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Alison Krauss; Ricky Skaggs
10:15: Bill Monroe (host); Brother Oswald
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Billy Walker
10:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Hank Locklin; Nashville Bluegrass Band
11:30: Mike Snider (host); Roy Drusky; Charlie Walker

From 50 years ago, Saturday March 28, 1970:

7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Grandpa Jones; Stu Phillips; Bill Carlisle
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Charlie Louvin; Billy Walker; Crook Brothers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; George Morgan; Jan Howard
9:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Bobby Bare; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Del Wood
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Leroy Van Dyke; Jim and Jesse; The Four Guys
10:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Grandpa Jones; Stu Phillips; Bill Carlisle
10:15: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Louvin
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); Billy Walker; George Morgan
10:45: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Earl Scruggs Revue; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Bobby Bare; Willis Brothers; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Del Wood; Kirk McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Jim and Jesse; Leroy Van Dyke; The Four Guys

Notice that each segment was hosted that night by a future Hall of Fame member.

Saturday March 27, 1971 was a very special night at the Grand Ole Opry as Jan Howard was introduced as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry.

The following is from Jan's website:

It's safe to say that few people have been through as many hardships and heartbreaks as Jan Howard. When someone once suggested to her that she'd make a good soap opera actress, Jan laughed and replied, "My life has been a soap opera".

Jan is the survivor of a difficult life, but has always made it clear that she doesn't want pity. Her saga - which includes miscarriages, marital abuse, bigamy, poverty, war, suicide, cheating, divorce, thievery, depression, and mental collapse - has only made her stronger.

Born in West Plains, Missouri, Jan was the eighth of eleven children of an impoverished farm couple. Her humble roots include attending a one-room schoolhouse wearing the homemade, feed sack clothes of a rural Depression-era child.

Married at age fifteen, Jan had three sons before she turned twenty. After two divorces, she headed to Los Angeles in 1955 and took on jobs as a waitress and a secretary. A chance meeting with aspiring songwriter Harlan Howard resulted in a Las Vegas wedding just one month later. One evening while Jan was washing dishes, Harlan came in the room unexpectedly and heard her singing for the very first time.

Harlan coaxed Jan to make a demo tape of his song "Mommy For A Day" which went on to become a hit for Kitty Wells. Jan later sang demos for other artists like Tex Ritter, Johnny Bond, Ned Miller, and Buck Owens. She also recorded the original demo of the Patsy Cline classic, "I Fall To Pieces". Backed by Wynn Stewart's band, Jan released Harlan's "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down" in 1959. She subsequently recorded several duets with Wynn including "Yankee Go Home" and "Wrong Company".

In 1960, Jan scored her first solo Top Ten hit with "The One You Slip Around With". That same year, the Howards moved to Nashville and Jan made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

Meanwhile, painfully shy Jan was suffering from the psychological scars of her youth, as well as the anxiety of beginning a new adventure. When her weight dropped below ninety-seven pounds, Harlan hospitalized Jan and she went into therapy.

Although strong friendships were formed with several Opry members, Jan faced some resentment and had to deal with her lack of self-confidence. She soon felt out of sync with the Opry's expectations for female acts.

Jan's fans, however, found her blunt, no-nonsense manner and stylish, no-frills look appealing.She won Billboard magazine's Most Promising Country Female Award in 1960, and she brought feminine spunk to The Nashville Sound.

In 1963 Jan had a Top 40 hit with "I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again", but it was a couple years later that her career really caught fire. Jan's string of gutsy hits included "What Makes A Man Wander" (1965), "Evil On Your Mind" (1966), "Bad Seed" (1966), "Roll Over And Play Dead" (1967), "Count Your Blessings Woman" (1968), "We Had All The Good Things Going" (1969), "Rock Me Back To Little Rock" (1970), "Love Is Like A Spinning Wheel" (1971), and "Let Him Have It" (1972).

Several of Jan's songs of the period reflected her troubled marriage with Harlan which eventually ended in a 1968 divorce. For the first time in her life, Jan's singing became an economic necessity.

Between 1965 and 1973, Jan teamed with Bill Anderson to form one of country's hottest duos on the road, on his syndicated TV show, and on record. Their hits included "I Know You're Married" (1966), "If It's All The Same To You" (1969), and "Someday We'll Be Together" (1970). Jan and Bill's 1967 recording of "For Loving You" stayed at No. 1 for four weeks on the country singles chart.

Jan not only recorded songs, but wrote them as well. She penned the 1966 Kitty Wells hit "It's All Over But The Crying" and Bill Anderson's 1970 hit "Love Is A Sometimes Thing", as well as her own singles "Marriage Has Ruined More Good Love Affairs" (1971) and "The Life Of A Country Singer" (1981).

Jan and Bill co-wrote Connie Smith's hit "I Never Once Stopped Loving You". Together with Jan's son Carter, they co-wrote their own 1972 hit "Dis-Satisfied".

Jan's proudest composition is 1968's "My Son", a moving recitation that began as a letter to her son in Vietnam. Jan's plea for the safe return of her son Jimmy had been released for two weeks when he was killed. Thousands of letters from soldiers and their parents subsequently poured in to Jan. Recent world events have renewed interest in the song, which Jan has performed in response to several requests.

Four years after Jimmy's death in Vietnam, Jan's youngest son David committed suicide. Jan softened the edges of tragedy with her strong faith in God and her belief that there is a reason for everything.

In 1987 Jan released her candid, compelling, and best-selling autobiography titled Sunshine and Shadow. The outline for the book was actually a song called "My Story" which Jan composed during a low point in her life when she became suicidal.

"Never Let Yesterday Use Up Today" has been one of Jan's mottos for years. "You can't change the past," she explains, "so learn from it, cherish the good, and go on from there. This is not a rehearsal; this is the show and there are no retakes."

Throughout her career Jan has accumulated many accolades for her recordings and songwriting, including several Grammy and CMA nominations. She has received countless acknowledgements for her charitable contributions and has taken an active role working with Veterans groups across the United States. In West Plains, Missouri, the "Jan Howard Expressway" has been named in her honor.

From 1960 through 1978, Jan placed thirty singles on the Billboard country music charts. Her vocals can be heard on over twenty albums. Recently she released a boxed set collection containing eighty songs and a twenty-page photo album.

Jan has toured every state in the USA, along with twenty-one foreign countries. She's made television appearances on dozens of shows like Hee Haw, Family Feud, The Today Show,Nashville Now, Music City Tonight, Prime Time Country, and Opry Live.

Jan's most memorable moment in country music was her induction as a member of the Grand Ole Opry on March 27, 1971. For over thirty years she has been a regular performer and a fan favorite on the world-famous Opry stage. The charming, brown-eyed entertainer has also opened many doors for female country artists.

Over the years Jan has pursued a variety of interests including acting and golfing. Along with friends Jeannie Seely and Rita Coolidge, Jan appeared in a motion picture titled Changing Hearts which was released in 2003 and is available on DVD and VHS.

Words like "classy", "sophisticated", "witty", "determined", "strong-willed", and "compassionate" have often been used to describe Jan. She is undoubtedly a lady of rare talent and determination who challenges life on a daily basis.

Jan has the gift of communicating the emotions of life through her music. Her love of life touches everyone she encounters.

"It almost seems like an accident that I became a singer," Jan states, "but I'm so thankful for it."

So are we all.

Jan, who is now retired, is the Grand Ole Opry's oldest member, will be celebrating her 49th anniversary as an Opry member on Friday night.

And now, here is the running order from Saturday March 27, 1971, the night Jan Howard joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Billy Walker (host): I Taught Her Everything She Knows
Ray Pillow: Grazin' in Greener Pastures
Del Wood: Are Your from Dixie
Billy Walker: How Great Thou Art

6:45: Rudy's
Jack Greene (host): There's a Whole Lot About a Woman A Man Don't Know
Jeannie Seely: Please Be My New Love
Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely: Wish I Didn't Have to Miss You
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything

7:00: Luzianne
Bill Monroe (host): My Little Georgia Rose
Earl Scruggs Revue: Loraderojosp III Breakdown
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Each Season Changes You
Ernie Ashworth: Jesus Is a Soul Man
James William Monroe: Come With Me Up Happiness Hill
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Earl Scruggs Revue: Foggy Mountain Top
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Legend of the Dogwood Tree

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Grandpa Jones: Mountain Dew
Jan Howard: Evil on Your Mind
George Morgan: For the Good Times
Bill Anderson: Always Remember
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Grandpa Jones: Fair & Tender Ladies
Bill Anderson and Jan Howard: Someday We'll Be Together

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Loretta Lynn: I Wanna Be Free
Tex Ritter: The Men in My Little Girl's Life
Willis Brothers: Women's Liberation
Lonzo and Oscar: Crawdad Song

8:30: Stephens
Porter Wagoner (host); The Carroll County Accident
Dolly Parton: Coming For to Carry Me Home
Stringbean: Hot Corn; Cold Corn
Tom T Hall: Ballad of 40 Dollars
Porter Wagoner: The Last One to Touch Me
Hank Locklin: She's as Close as I Can Get
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Walking in My Sleep
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton: Better Move it On Home

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Bill Anderson (host): You Can Change the World By Changing Your Mind
Willis Brothers: For the Good Times
Jan Howard: Were You There
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Nobody's Darling But Mine
Ray Pillow: Working Man Blues
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): Little Joe
Earl Scruggs Revue: Bugle Call Rag
Bill Carlisle: I'm Movin'
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie

10:15: Union 76
Billy Walker (host): When A Man Loves A Woman
Grandpa Jones: Dooley
Ernie Ashworth: Jesus Is A Soul Man
Billy Walker: Make the World Go Away

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Jack Greene: There's a Whole Lot About a Woman a Man Don't Know
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Beechnut
Porter Wagoner (host): Big Wind
Dolly Parton: Joshua
Stringbean: Lonesome Road Blues
Crook Brothers: Arkansas Traveler
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton: Better Move it On Home

11:00: Coca Cola
Tex Ritter (host): Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter
Hank Locklin: Country Hall of Fame
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Tex Ritter: High Noon
Loretta Lynn: I Wanna Be Free
Sam McGee: San Antonio Rose

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Devil Woman
Lonzo and Oscar: There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
Ronnie Robbins: Put You Hand in the Hand/Today I Started Loving You Again
Marty Robbins: I Walk Alone/Don't Worry/A Heart Full of Love/Long Gone Lonesome Blues
Marty Robbins and Ronnie Robbins: It Finally Happened

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Grand Ole Opry 3/20 & 3/21

Good Thursday Afternoon All:

First, I hope everyone is safe and well. So much going on right now and we need to be taking care of ourselves. While it may take a little time, things will get back to normal, and that includes the world of music. Currently, tours and concerts are being cancelled or postponed, in some cases into summer. And that includes the Grand Ole Opry. While the Opry is still expecting to resume shows in April, and tickets are available for future shows, the feeling is that probably will not happen. While the lost of those shows takes away the pleasure of attending or listening to the Opry, the show has continued as the Opry staff is committed to keeping the circle unbroken by putting on an abbreviated Saturday night show.

Last week's show was very well received, with an estimated half a million viewers watching the show on the various platforms in which it was presented. And while many of us missed some of our favorites, it was nice to see Connie Smith, Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, and the guest artists. A nice variety. It was very strange to hear no applause or audience response and there was a little awkwardness between some of the songs, but overall, it was an excellent show.

Even more exciting is that the Opry has decided to continue these broadcasts, with the focus this Saturday night on The Circle network.  The Circle is an over-the-air network that hopefully most of you will be able to pick up. My understanding is that the show will also be available on the web.

As I type this on Thursday afternoon, the Opry has not released a line-up for Saturday night. When I contacted the Opry, there was no information to give. My guess is that they are still firming it up as things are probably pretty fluid right now.

Continuing forward, I will still be posting and updating information as I receive it and the blog will continue, even if there is little information from the Opry to report.

I'll post as soon as I receive the line-up.

But for now, here is the Opry line-up from 25 years ago, the 3rd Saturday in March 1995:

Saturday March 18
1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Jeanne Pruett
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Skeeter Davis
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jean Shepard; Brother Oswald; Jeannie Seely; Alison Krauss
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Ketty Lester; Charlie Walker; Joe Diffie
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Jack Greene; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Stonewall Jackson; Bill Carlisle; Jimmy C Newman

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jim Ed Brown; Wilma Lee Cooper; Joe Diffie
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Riders In The Sky
10:15: Bill Monroe (host); Jean Shepard
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Alison Krauss
10:45: Bill Anderson (host); Billy Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jack Greene; Charlie Louvin; Jan Howard; Johnny Russell
11:30: The Four Guys (host); Connie Smith; Ray Pillow; Jeannie Seely

Who remembers Ketty Lester?

Ketty Lester was born Revoyda Frierson on August 16, 1934 in Hope, Arkansas. As a young child, she first sang in her church, and later in school choirs. She won a scholarship to study music at San Francisco State College, and in the early 1950s, she began performing under the name "Ketty Lester" in the city's Purple Onion club. She later toured Europe as a singer with Cab Calloway's orchestra.

Returning to California, she recorded her first single, "Queen for a Day", for the Everest label. She was introduced by Dorothy Shay to record producers and songwriters Ed Cobb and Lincoln Mayorga  who won her a contract with Era Records in Los Angeles. In 1961, they released her single "I'm a Fool to Want You" b/w "Love Letters". Radio listeners and disc jockeys preferred the B-side, a reworking of a 1945 hit by Dick Haymes, and Lester's recording of "Love Letters", which rose to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 early in 1962. The record also reached #2 on the R&B chart and #4 in the UK Singles Chart, selling over 1 million copies.

In 1962, she toured the UK as support act on the Everly Brothers tour. The follow-up, a version of George and Ira Gershwin's "But Not for Me" from the musical Girl Crazy, reached #41 in the U.S. pop charts and #45 in the UK. She released an album, Love Letters, which contained the tracks "You Can't Lie to a Liar" and a cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" (both of which were issued as singles) and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category.

She continued to record for Era with little success until 1964, when she signed for RCA. She released several unsuccessful singles for that label, and two albums,  By the early 1970s, she gave up singing commercially and turned to acting. She reportedly was offered the role eventually taken by Diahann
Carroll in the 1968-71 TV series Julia, and appeared in a variety of movies.

She established herself as a television actress in the 1970s and 1980s, playing the roles of Helen Grant on Days of Our Lives (1975–77) and as Hester-Sue Terhune on Little House on the Prairie (1977–83). as well as making appearances on other television shows and movies.

At last word, she is still alive.

Now from 50 years ago, Saturday March 21, 1970:

7:30: Charlie Louvin (host); Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Stringbean; Justin Tubb; Darrell McCall
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Stu Phillips; Connie Eaton; Crook Brothers
8:30: George Morgan (host); Grandpa Jones; Ernie Ashworth; Margie Bowes
9:00: Ernest Tubb (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Del Wood; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Penny DeHaven; Billy Parker
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Merle Travis
10:00: Stu Phillips (host); Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Stringbean
10:15: Charlie Louvin (host); Grandpa Jones; Justin Tubb
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); George Morgan; Connie Eaton
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Ernie Ashworth; Merle Travis; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Margie Bowes; Sam McGee
11:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jean Shepard; Ray Pillow; Del Wood

Looking back at past Grand Ole Opry dates, March 20, 1976 was the date of the Opry's annual reunion show, often called "Old Timer's Night." Held yearly beginning in 1974, it was a night in which former members of the Grand Ole Opry would return to visit and perform. It was always a great night of memories.

Here is the running order from 44 years ago, Saturday March 20, 1976

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Walker (host): My Shoes Keep Walking to You
Willis Brothers: The World is Waiting for the Sunrise
Charlie Walker: Marbles

6:45: Rudy's
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Justin Tubb: As Long as There's a Sunday/Cold Brown Bottle
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walking

7:00: Shoney's
Bill Anderson (host): If You Can Live With It
Dottie West: (?)
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Nobody's Darling But Mine
Duke of Paducah: If You Knew Susie
Paul Howard: Stay a Little Longer
Bill Anderson and Mary Lou Turner: Sometimes
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Honey Wilds: Sittin' on Top of the World
Chet Atkins: (?)/ Wheels/Wildwood Flower/Freight Train/(?)
Sid Harkreader: Mockingbird Breakdown/Red Wing
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me
Crook Brothers and The Tennessee Travelers: Cotton Eyed Joe

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Are You from Dixie
Connie Smith: Til I Kissed You
Hank Locklin: These Arms You Push Away
Jimmy C Newman: Alligator Man
Jimmy Driftwood: The Mixed Up Family

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Movin' On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Jimmy Dickens: Sleepin' at the Foot of the Bed
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Pee Wee King: Tennessee Waltz
Hank Snow: Paper Roses

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Willis Brothers: Maiden's Prayer/Faded Love
Dottie West: Last Time I Saw Him
Stonewall Jackson: Washed My Hands in Muddy Water
Charlie Walker: Marbles
Bill Anderson and Mary Lou Turner: Sometimes/That's What Made Me Love You

10:00: Fender
Minnie Pearl (MC): (?)
Connie Smith: Til I Kissed You
Justin Tubb: Keep Me From Blowing Away
Minnie Pearl: Careless Love

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Nine Pound Hammer
Jan Howard: Make the World Go Away
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

10:30: Trailblazer
Grandpa Jones (host): Make Me a Pallet Down on the Floor
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigrae
Pee Wee King: Bonaparte's Retreat
Grandpa Jones: In My Dear Old Southern Home

10:45: Beechnut
Jimmy C Newman (host): Big Mamou
Alcyone Beasley: Silver Threads Among the Gold
Crook Brothers and The Tennessee Travelers: Mississippi Sawyer
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): Wreck of the Old 97
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Hank Locklin: These Arms You Push Away
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Skeeter Davis: Midnight Blue
Kirk McGee: Blue Night
Hank Snow: Address Unknown

11:30: Elm Hill
Roy Drusky (host): Truck Driving Man
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets/Count Me Out
Jimmy Dickens: Family Reunion/We Could
Roy Drusky: This Life of Mine

Yes, Minnie Pearl was the MC of her segment, not the host.

Honey Wilds was one of the returning Opry members that night, and I wanted to just take a moment to remember his contributions to the Opry, as they are largely forgotten.

Honey Wilds was a Southern humorist and regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry between 1932 and 1952, He was the creative force behind the Opry's first tent tours, which were instrumental in bringing rural music to mass audiences. His recorded legacy was less substantial, resulting in only a handful of songs. Regardless, the reason why Wilds' name is frequently omitted from the official record is a simple -- yet infinitely complex -- one: he was a minstrel singer who performed in blackface for white audiences during the segregation era. Rather than serving as a painful reminder of America's past, he instead fell prey to the nation's notoriously selective memory, and has essentially vanished.

Lee David Wilds was born in 1902. His father, the owner of a brickyard, died of pneumonia at the age of 32. He grew up in a racially mixed community, learning to play the blues from the black musicians who performed at a nearby theater. He also took up the ukelele. In the mid-'20s, he joined a minstrel show, forming a duo with Lasses White, a blackface comedian and veteran of vaudeville. White, who had earned his nickname as a child because of his sweet tooth, was known for giving his partners complementary stage names, and so Honey Wilds was born.

Although music accounted for a large share of Lasses and Honey's act, the two men were primarily comedians. They performed novelty songs, often parodies of current hits. Like Al Jolson and Emmett Miller before them, their act consisted of material appropriated from African-American culture, allowing white audiences the opportunity to experience.  Most blackface performers insisted that their work sprung not from racism but from a deep admiration for black popular culture; the validity of such statements is debatable, although in Wilds' case it appears to be true, especially given his background and adult friendships with the likes of DeFord Bailey, one of country music's few black acts.

In 1932, Lasses and Honey were offered a six-week contract to perform at the Opry. Wilds ended up staying on for over two decades, his tenure broken only by a brief 1939 foray into Hollywood; although he soon returned to the Opry, White remained in California. Instead of going solo, Wilds formed another duo, Jam-Up and Honey, in 1940. Following his return from the West Coast, he also began pondering methods of improving the existing touring network, which consisted typically of two or three acts hitting the road together. With the Opry's endorsement, he bought an 80-by-200 foot tent, assembled a road crew and a wide variety of entertainers, and began promoting the tour throughout the country. The Opry tent shows proved highly successful, running annually from early April to Labor Day between 1940 and 1949.

Despite close friendships with Hank Williams (according to legend, it was Wilds who nicknamed Hank Jr. "Bocephus"), Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, and other Opry staples, Wilds rarely wrote or recorded his own material, focusing instead on live performances. Among his few existing recordings include "Alabamy Bound," a traditional country-blues, and "De Lion's Cage," an old Emmett Miller routine cut with producer Owen Bradley. In 1952, Jam-Up and Honey left the Opry to accept an offer in Knoxville; by that time, the duo no longer performed in blackface, and their act gradually fell out of favor. In 1957, the team split, and Wilds dropped out of music, running a service station until 1960, at which time he began hosting a local children's television program. By 1967, he had retired permanently, and died several years later.

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Opry Update

WSM Friends & Family,

The tradition of the Grand Ole Opry will continue on the airwaves of WSM Radio as it has since 1925. Throughout our history, various events have led Opry management to make difficult decisions about how to alter the show’s format and schedule. Amid recent COVID-19 concerns, the Grand Ole Opry, the world’s longest-running radio show, will return to its original format as a live radio broadcast on Saturday nights only without a live audience. Fans around the world can still tune in to the Saturday night broadcasts as scheduled on 650 AM WSM,, and the WSM mobile app.

WSM and the Opry’s first priority has always been the safety of our employees, guests and artists who have been key in keeping the show that made country music famous on the air every week for over 94 years, and we look forward to keeping that tradition alive.

If you were planning to join us live in the Opry audience for a show between now and April 4, 2020, please check your email or contact the Grand Ole Opry Customer Service at for rebooking information.

May the Circle Be Unbroken,
Your WSM Family

So it looks like it will be a Saturday night show only for at least a few weeks.

Also, Rhonda Vincent posted on her website that her Opry induction has been postponed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Grand Ole Opry 3/13 & 3/14

With all of the cancellations that are now taking place in the sporting and entertainment industries, it looks like it is all systems go as far as the Grand Ole Opry this weekend. And in looking at the line-ups, it would appear that it is the Opry's veterans who will be handling most of the load.

Grand Ole Opry members Connie Smith, Jeannie Seely and Mike Snider are scheduled for both nights. That trio will be joined on Friday night by Mark Wills, while on Saturday night Bobby Osborne, Bill Anderson and The Whites are listed.

Jerrod Niemann is scheduled to guest both nights. Joining him on Friday will be Hailey Whitters, Brandon Lay, Dusty Slay, Steven Curtis Chapman and Exile. Saturday's guest list, in addition to Jerrod, has Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Sam Williams and Locash listed.

Not the strongest of shows but solid.

Friday March 13
7:00: Mark Wills (host); Hailey Whitters; Brandon Lay
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Dusty Slay; Jerrod Niemann
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Steven Curtis Chapman
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Exile

Saturday March 14
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mandy Barnett; Mike Snider
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Sam Williams; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:15: The Whites (host); Jerrod Niemann; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Connie Smith (host); Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper; Lee Greenwood

Of the 10 acts on the Friday Night Opry, 4 are Opry members, while 6 of the 10 on Saturday night are members of the Opry. Not as strong of a showing as in recent weeks.

Johnny Counterfit is the host of this week's Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

And now from 25 years ago, the 2nd Saturday in March 1995:

1st show
6:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Bill Carlisle
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Jeanne Pruett
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jim Ed Brown; The Whites; Billy Walker; Jean Shepard
7:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Mel McDaniel; Alison Krauss; The Four Guys
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jack Greene; Charlie Walker; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); John Conlee; Joe Diffie

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Brother Oswald; Riders In The Sky; Mel McDaniel; The Whites
10:00: Lorrie Morgan (host); Alison Krauss
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); The Four Guys
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Alison Krauss
10:45: Jean Shepard (host); Billy Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: John Conlee (host); Jan Howard; Jeannie Seely
11:30: Johnny Russell (host); Jack Greene; Charlie Walker; Connie Smith

From 50 years ago, Saturday March 14, 1970:

7:30: Charlie Louvin (host); Justin Tubb; Lonzo and Oscar; Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Ernie Ashworth
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Skeeter Davis; Stu Phillips; Crook Brothers; Del Wood
8:30: Bill Monroe (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Mel Tillis; Margie Bowes
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Stringbean; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Billy Walker (host); Willis Brothers; Grandpa Jones; The Four Guys; Diana Trask
10:00: Charlie Louvin (host); Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Ernie Ashworth; Margie Bowes
10:15: Stu Phillips (host); Skeeter Davis; Lonzo and Oscar
10:30: Mel Tillis (host); Justin Tubb; Del Wood
10:45: Bill Monroe (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Crook Brothers; Stringbean
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Willis Brothers; Jan Howard; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Billy Walker (host); Grandpa Jones; The Four Guys; Diana Trask

Looking back at a couple of dates in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, it was Saturday March 14, 1981 that the Opry was televised for the 4th and final time by PBS.

In the late 1970s, the executives of the Public Broadcasting System approached the management of the Grand Ole Opry with a proposal. They wanted to do what had never been done before: put an entire evening of the Grand Ole Opry on television.

PBS was faced with ever-increasing cuts in appropriations from the federal government and needed to expand the base of subscribers. It needed to reach new people, which in turn would increase contributions. It had never been able to reach grass-roots America. PBS, through the Grand Ole Opry, thought they could reach those people.

On Saturday March 4, 1978, the Opry was broadcast for the first time, coast to coast, live as it happened. The only concession to television came when PBS covered the radio commercials with backstage features and interviews. The artists were also instructed not to mention sponsor's names and the sponsor backdrop was darkened.

The night was repeated for the next four years, with 1981 being the final show. For the performers, it was a special night and many of the Opry's members wanted to be a part of it. And because they were on television, many "dressed up" for the occasion. I know for many of us Opry fans, the shows were wonderful and we wish we could see them once again. Some of us are lucky to have some of the shows in our collections.

Here is the running order from 39 years ago, Saturday March 14, 1981:

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Tom T Hall (host): The Year That Clayton Delaney Died
Skeeter Davis: The Rose
Jack Greene: She's the Rock I'm Leaning On
Boxcar Willie: Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me Down My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/Orange Blossom Special/Wabash Cannonball/Night Train to Memphis
Lonzo and Oscar: Whatever Happened to Saturday Night
Tom T Hall: Old Dogs, Children & Watermelon Wine

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Del Reeves (host): Be Glad
Billy Grammer: Somebody Loves You
Justin Tubb: Pull the Covers Over Me
Del Reeves: A Dozen Pair of Boots

6:45: Rudy's
Ernest Tubb (host): Walkin' the Floor Over You
Jeannie Seely: Roarin' and Running
Del Wood: Keep on the Firing Line
Ernest Tubb: Answer the Phone

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Jan Howard: The Story of Hondo Crouch
Jimmy C Newman and Wade B. Landry: Orange Blossom Special
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Legend of the Dogwood Tree
Charlie Louvin: Will You Visit Me on Sundays
Porter Wagoner: Trouble in Amen Corner

7:30: Standard Candy
Grandpa Jones (host): Are You From Dixie
Jean Shepard: Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
Osborne Brothers: I Can Hear Kentucky Calling Me
Ernie Ashworth: Memphis Memory
Billy Walker: Behind Closed Doors
Crook Brothers and The Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Liberty
Grandpa Jones and Family: Fair & Tender Ladies

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
Minnie Pearl: Careless Love
Don Gibson: I Can't Stop Loving You/Oh, Lonesome Me
Roy Acuff: Cabin in Gloryland

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): Paper Roses
Jerry Clower: Nugene Ledbetter Tells a Lie
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
The Four Guys: Swing Down Chariot
Hank Snow and Kelly Foxton: Before the Next Teardrop Falls
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Ernest Tubb (host): Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello
Tom T Hall: They All Knew Me
The Four Guys: Mama Rocked Us to Sleep with Country Music
Jack Greene: I'll Be There
Connie Smith: Give Them All to Jesus
Wilburn Brothers: Arkansas
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas

10:00: Little Debbie
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Del Reeves: I Would Like to See You Again
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Porter Wagoner: Everything I've Always Wanted

10:15: Sunbeam
Grandpa Jones (host): Baptism of Jesse Taylor
Jean Shepard: Chime Bells
Ray Pillow: Too Many Memories
Grandpa Jones and Family: Neighbors

10:30: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Down in Union County
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me
Stonewall Jackson: Old Chuck of Coal
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Beechnut
Jimmy C Newman: Cajuns Dream
Osborne Brothers: Rank Strangers
Vic Willis Trio: American Trilogy
Crook Brothers and The Tennessee Travelers: Gray Eagle

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): I've Cried a Mile
Billy Walker: You Gave Me a Mountain
Jerry Clower: Uncle Versie's Trial
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Saturday Night Hop
David Houston: Texas Ida Red
Kirk McGee: Milk'em in the Evening Blues
Hank Snow and Kelly Foxton: Check

11:30: Bama
Marty Robbins (host): Singing the Blues
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Charlie Louvin: 10 Years; 3 Kids; 2 Loves Too Late
Stu Phillips: I Will
Marty Robbins: Tonight Carmen/Don't Worry/That's All Right/I Don't Know Why
Marty Robbins and Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Marty Robbins: Completely Out of Love/Love Me/Among My Souvenirs/El Paso City/Jumper Cable Man/Beyond the Reef/An Evening Prayer/Devil Woman/El Paso

For those who kept track at home, PBS ended the broadcast at 1:00 am Nashville time after Marty sang El Paso City. The entire show ran until 1:20 am.

Luckily I have a video of the 2nd show that night.

Finally, 21 years ago, March 13, 1999, Trisha Yearwood became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She had been asked by Ricky Skaggs in January, the night that the Opry returned to the Ryman Auditorium for the first time since 1974.

Here is the running order from that night:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Jimmy C Newman (host): La Cajun Band
Skeeter Davis: I'll Fly Away
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya/Cajun Stripper

6:45: National Corvette Museum
Jim Ed Brown (host): Looking Back to See/Morning/Pop A Top/The 3 Bells

7:00: Shoney's/Standard Candy
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Bill Carlisle: I've Waited Too Long
Janie Fricke: Bouncing Back/Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby
Porter Wagoner: Fireball Mail/Night Train to Memphis/Cabin in Gloryland
Rick "L.D." Wayne: On the Line
Randy Scruggs: Black Mountain Rag
Steve Wariner: Holes in the Floor of Heaven
Trisha Yearwood: Living on the Wrong Side of Memphis/She's In Love with the Boy/Sweet Dreams

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): No Fair Falling in Love
Marty Stuart: Southern Accent
John Prine: Paradise
Jean Shepard: I'll Sail My Ship Alone
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Rachel
Bill Anderson: Still

8:30: Physician's Mutual
Jimmy Dickens (host): Sleepin' at the Foot of the Bed
Ricky Skaggs: Little Maggie
The Whites: I Hear the Wind A' Blowin
Vince Gill: Pretty Little Adriana/When I Call Your Name

2nd show
9:30: Blue Green Vacation Resort Development
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Jimmy C Newman: Good Deal Lucille
Trisha Yearwood: A Perfect Love/How Do I Live/She's In Love with the Boy
Porter Wagoner: I'll Fly Away

10:00: Lincoln Mercury
Vince Gill (host): Don't Come Crying to Me
Randy Scruggs: Soldier's Joy
Vince Gill: Whenever You Come Around

10:15: Ray Stevens Show
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Mike Snider and Marty Stuart: Rawhide
Jimmy Dickens: Live Turned Her That Way

10:30: Epiphone
Marty Stuart (host): Doin' My Time
John Prine: Grandpa Was a Carpenter
John Prine and Marty Stuart: Angel from Montgomery

10:45: Joggin' In A Jug
Ricky Skaggs (host): I'm Lost; I'll Never Find the Way
Jean Shepard: Tennessee Waltz
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durang's Hornpipe
Ricky Skaggs: Connemara

11:00: Coca Cola
Bill Anderson (host): Po' Folks
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands
John Conlee: Friday Night Blues
Jeannie Seely: Make the World Go Away
Billy Walker: Come A Little Bit Closer
Bill Anderson: The Paper

11:30: Opry Book
Johnny Russell (host): Folsom Prison Blues
Jack Greene: Statue of a Fool
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Del Reeves: Splish; Splash/Answer the Phone/Hound Dog
Stonewall Jackson: A Wound Time Can't Erase
Johnny Russell: Wabash Cannonball

As someone who was there that night, what a fantastic night. Both shows were great.

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend. (And congratulations to Trisha Yearwood upon her 21st anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry).

Monday, March 9, 2020

March Opry Highlights

Welcome to March and the month that brings us Spring and a return to Daylight Savings Time, which means it doesn't get dark so early. I hope wherever you live that winter is coming to an end. Up here in Ohio, winter wasn't too bad. Less snow then usual, but more rain. Either way, glad spring is around the corner. Getting back to the business of the Grand Ole Opry, here are the important and historical events that have taken place at the Grand Ole Opry during the month of March.

March 9, 1925: Ralph Sloan, the leader and founder of The Tennessee Travelers, was born. Ralph and his group joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1952 and continued under Ralph's leadership until his death in 1980. After Ralph passed away, his brother Melvin took over as the group's leader, changing the name to the Melvin Sloan Dancers. Melvin continued on until his retirement in 2002.

March 24, 1928: Kitty Cora Cline became the first female solo artist to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Kitty was at the Opry until March 31, 1934, when she decided to quit. The story goes that on that particular evening, she was on her way to the Opry and witnessed a serious car accident that bothered her so much that she refused to travel by car again. Thus, she quit performing.

March 31, 1934: Robert Lunn made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. After joining the Opry, he stayed until retiring in 1958. Robert, who was known for his sense of humor, spent some time working and touring with Roy Acuff. Robert Lunn passed away in 1966 after suffering a heart attack.

March 16, 1946: Future Grand Ole Opry member Grandpa Jones made his first appearance on the Opry, appearing as a member of Pee Wee King's band.

March 1, 1952: Uncle Dave Macon, one of the Opry's earliest stars, made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Uncle Dave was one of the Opry's originals and was one of the first professional musicians to join the cast. Two weeks later, on March 22, Uncle Dave, who was one of the early members to have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, passed away at the age of 82.

March 21, 1953: Bill Carlisle and the Carlisles made their first guest appearance at the Grand Ole Opry.

March 1, 1958: After criticizing the management of WSM radio, Marty Robbins was fired as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Opry management quickly realized their mistake and Marty was quickly hired back.

March 2, 1963: Opry members Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins made their final appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Several days later, the duo would pass away when the plane they were riding in crashed on the way back to Nashville. Copas, Hawkins, along with Opry member Patsy Cline and pilot Randy Hughes were returning after performing on a benefit show in Kansas City.

March 9, 1963: The Grand Ole Opry observed a moment of silence to honor Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes. Also honored was Jack Anglin of Johnny & Jack, who also passed away the previous week, in his case the result of injuries from an auto accident. In the tribute read by Opry manager Ott Devine, he said, "All of their friends standing with me tonight on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium know that it is impossible to put our thoughts, or feelings, our love for Patsy, Hank, Cope, Jack and Randy. And so we ask for a moment of silent prayer in tribute to them."

March 29, 1963: Texas Ruby Owens died in a fire at her home. Along with her husband Curly Fox, she came to the Opry in the 1940s. After Ruby's death, Curly remained at the Opry as a solo act.

March 2, 1964: Jim & Jesse McReynolds were invited to become members of the Grand Ole Opry. Later that week, they made their first appearance as Opry members. Jim & Jesse were very popular members of the Opry and along with their group the Virginia Boys, continued as members of the Opry until the death of Jim in December 2002. After Jim's death, Jesse has continued on at the Opry as his health has permitted.  Jesse, who will turn 91 this year and is the oldest male cast member of the Grand Ole Opry, will be celebrating his 56th consecutive year as a member of the Opry's cast.

March 7, 1964: Ernie Ashworth, along with Jim & Jesse, made his first appearance as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Ernie, who was famous for his hit song, "Talk Back Trembling Lips" and for his colorful suit with flaming lips on it, remained an Opry member until his death on March 2, 2009.

March 28, 1964: Connie Smith made her first appearance as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry. Connie appeared at the invitation of Bill Anderson. Later that evening, Connie stopped by at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and the Midnight Jamboree. A year later, in 1965, Connie became an Opry member.

March 9, 1968: Irene Ryan, who played the part of Granny on the very popular show, "The Beverly Hillbillies," made a guest appearance on the Opry.

March 15, 1968: The Byrds, featuring Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, made an appearance on the Friday Night Opry. They sang "Sing Me Back Home" and "Hickory Wind." The Byrds always considered it an honor to perform on the Opry and this appearance ended up being their only one. It was later reported that a few of the Opry's members were not thrilled over their appearance and the audience response was much the same.

March 28, 1970: Grand Ole Opry member Marty Robbins returned to the Opry for the first time since suffering a heart attack in January. As usual, he returned as the host of the 11:30 segment. Reporter Jerry Thompson, who was there that evening, wrote, "The sound from the jam-packed crowd was deafening. They couldn't hear the words to the songs that familiar figure behind the Opry mic was crooning, but there was no mistake. Marty Robbins was back where he belonged. Midway through the show, Robbins sat at the piano and told the audience, 'I had so many things I was going to say tonight. I want to thank all of my friends for their concern and I want to thank God for letting me be there. Now, I can't think of anything else to say, so I guess I'll have to sing for you.' And sing he did until 12:27 a.m. when the curtain closed amidst repeated shouts of 'more, more, more.'" This was one night that Ernest Tubb did not complain about the Midnight Jamboree starting late.

March 27, 1971: Jan Howard became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.  Jan will be celebrating her 49th year as an Opry member. Jan had been appearing on the Opry for several years before becoming an Opry member, and in fact, Opry member Bud Wendall had thought she was already a member. Jan is not basically retired from performing, although she has made a couple of visits backstage at the Opry over the past year. Finally, let's not forget that Jan's birthday is on March 13 and that Jan is the Opry's oldest member.

March 9, 1974: The Grand Ole Opry had its final Saturday night show at the Ryman Auditorium. The Opry, which had been at the Ryman since 1943, was scheduled to move to the new Grand Ole Opry House the following weekend. Technically, this was Tom T Hall's final night as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, as he gave up his Opry membership when the Opry left the Ryman Auditorium.

March 15, 1974: The Grand Ole Opry conducted its final Friday Night Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. While the previous Saturday night was the final Grand Ole Opry show, this being the final show made for a very emotional night, so much so that both Bill Anderson and Charlie Walker forgot the words to their songs. The final segment this night was hosted by George Morgan, who concluded the show with his hit "Candy Kisses." This was also the final night that Bobby Bare was a member of the Grand Ole Opry as he left the Opry's cast when the show moved to the new Grand Ole Opry House. It took many years, but Bobby would rejoin the Opry in 2018. After the Opry ended, Reverend Jimmie Snow hosted the final Grand Ole Gospel from the Ryman with guests Hank Snow, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, and the Carter Family, none of whom actually appeared on the Opry that night. The show concluded with the singing of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and as soon as they were finished, the signs were taken down and many of the items were immediately transferred to the new Opry House. After the Opry left, the Ryman stayed empty for many years, with the inside of the building looking exactly as the Opry left it when they moved in 1974.

March 16, 1974: With President Richard Nixon in attendance, the Grand Ole Opry had its first performance at the new Grand Ole Opry House. When President Nixon made his appearance, he became the first President to visit and perform on the Opry. As yes, he did perform, playing several songs on the piano. There was much discussion on who would be the first Opry member to perform on the show, and with the decision made to go in alphabetical order, Roy Acuff took the honors, followed by Bill Anderson. With pretty much every Opry member in attendance, both shows that night ran well past the allotted time. The Grand Ole Opry House was the first building built specifically for the Opry, and despite damage from the flood in 2010, the building has held up well and has now been the Opry's home for 45 years.

March 30, 1974: The Earl Scruggs Revue made their final appearance as members of the Grand Ole Opry. When Flatt & Scruggs broke up, both Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs maintained their Opry membership. While Lester enjoyed playing the Opry on a regular basis, Earl had a more progressive sound and enjoyed playing before different audiences. While he gave up his Opry membership, Earl would continue to come back and perform on the show.

March 14, 1975: One year after the Opry House opened, the Cumberland River overflowed its banks, causing a flood that forced the Opry to move the shows that weekend to the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville. It was also the weekend of the 1st anniversary of the Opry House, so the timing wasn't the best. At first, many thought the Opry would return to the Ryman for the weekend, but it was determined that the old building was in no shape to host a live show. Unlike the flood of 2010 which caused extensive damage to the Opry House, the 1975 flood just affected the parking lots and the surrounding area.

March 4, 1978: For the first time in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, an entire show was televised. PBS had approached Opry officials to see if there was any interest in televising the show as part of the annual fundraising drive that PBS conducts. The Opry agreed and it was considered such a great success that PBS would continue to televise an Opry show for the next three years. The Opry did agree to a few changes, including all references to their commercial sponsors, which included covering the sponsor's signs that appeared on the Opry stage and backdrop. (however, in looking at video from those nights, Martha White's sign appears to show through rather well and Roy Acuff did get in a few Martha White plugs). What made those nights so special, besides the quality of the line-ups, was the fact that the Opry did not change the show at all. The format remained the same, although several of the members dressed up a bit more than usual. These shows also gave people across the country who had never attended an Opry show, a chance to see the entire Opry as it happened.

March 10, 1979: James Brown appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. He appeared at the invitation of Porter Wagoner, who thought it would be a great idea. It was a tough night at the Opry as several of the Opry's members did not agree with Porter and decided not to appear that night. James was on stage for almost 20 minutes and would later say that he enjoyed performing on the show.

March 23, 1979: Lester Flatt returned to the Opry for the first time since the previous November. A brain hemorrhage kept Lester away.

March 12, 1980: Ralph Sloan passed away. Ralph and the Tennessee Travelers had been at the Opry since 1952. Upon his death, brother Melvin took over the square dance group.

March 22, 1980: Opry member Marion Worth made her final appearance on the Opry. Marion joined the Opry in 1965 and while she didn't have a spectacular career in country music, she was a fairly popular member of the show. After leaving the Opry, Marion did a few shows in Las Vegas, then eventually retiring. Marion passed away in December 1999.

March 22, 1980: On the same date as the final appearance of Opry member Marion Worth, Melvin Sloan officially took over as the leader of the Tennessee Travelers following the death several weeks earlier of his brother Ralph. With the change, the group became known as the Melvin Sloan Dancers.

March 28, 1980: Tom T Hall rejoined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Tom, along with Bobby Bare, quit in March 1974 when the Opry moved to the new Grand Ole Opry House. It was reported that Ernest Tubb ran into Tom T in the parking lot after a show at the Opry House and told him he needed to get back to the Opry. He did and for most of the 1980s, was a regular performer on the show. Tom T has not been on the Opry in several decades and is now retired.

March 1, 1982: Roy Acuff was honored with a two-hours special that was televised on ABC. An all-star cast of performers and entertainers honored Roy, including President Ronald Reagan, Vice-President George Bush, Minnie Pearl, Tom T. Hall, Bill Anderson, Chet Atkins, Charlie Daniels and Gene Autry.

March 7, 1983: TNN, The Nashville Network, made its debut. This network would later become the television home of the Grand Ole Opry as a half hour of the show was televised live each Saturday night.

March 3, 1984: The Whites, consisting of Buck, Sharon and Cheryl, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 36th year as Opry members.

March 7, 1986: Randy Travis made his first guest appearance on the Opry. He was introduced by Jimmy Dickens and sang, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." That evening, Randy was asked if her would like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Later that year, in December, Randy would become an Opry member.

March 4, 1996: Grand Ole Opry legend Minnie Pearl passed away from complications after suffering a series of strokes. Minnie had been a Grand Ole Opry member for over 50 years and was perhaps the most loved member of the Opry.

March 9, 1996: Minnie Pearl was remembered at the Opry on the first Saturday night following her death. Wilma Lee Cooper, Jean Shepard, Jeanne Pruett, Skeeter Davis, Connie Smith and Jeannie Seely sang, "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" which was Minnie's favorite song.

March 15, 1996: Grand Ole Opry member Bill Monroe, an Opry member since 1939, made his final appearance on the Friday Night Opry. The following morning, Bill was admitted to Baptist Hospital after suffering a stroke.

March 16, 1996: Grand Ole Opry member Don Gibson made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Don had originally joined the Opry's cast in the late 1950s, and was fired in December 1964 for failing to meet the Opry's attendance requirements. He rejoined the cast years later, yet upon his return, he rarely appeared on the show. In fact, Don rarely performed anywhere. Don, who was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001, passed away in November 2003.

March 14, 1998: Diamond Rio was invited to become the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. The accepted and officially became Opry members the following month.

March 13, 1999: Trisha Yearwood became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Trisha had been invited in January by Ricky Skaggs to join the cast. This will be her 21st year as an Opry member.

March 17, 2000: Frequent Opry guest, and Sirius XM host, Elizabeth Cook made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry.

March 22, 2001: Opry member Johnny Russell was honored at a special benefit show at the Opry House. The show was held to raise funds for Johnny to help cover his mounting medical bills. Among those attending were Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs and Ralph Emery.

March 7, 2003: Long time Grand Ole Opry member Bill Carlisle made his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. A few days after this show, Bill suffered a stroke. Bill joined the Opry in November 1953 and 49 years later, Bill was appearing on the Opry most every weekend. The stroke ended Bill's performing career and he passed away on March 17.

March 15, 2008: Randy Travis surprised Carrie Underwood during a guest appearance on the Opry and invited Carrie to become the Opry's newest member. Several months later in May, Carrie was officially inducted into the Opry's cast.

March 21, 2008: Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Walker made his final appearance at the Opry. Charlie had joined the cast in 1967. Charlie would pass away later that year from cancer. In addition to being a member of the Opry's cast, Charlie was also a member of the Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame.

March 2, 2009: Opry legend Ernie Ashworth passed away. Ernie had been an Opry member for 45 years.

March 8, 2009: Grand Ole Opry member Hank Locklin passed away at the age of 91. Hank joined the Opry in 1960 and at the time of his death, was the Opry's oldest member. "Send Me The Pillow You Dream On" was one of Hank's classic numbers, as was his rendition of "Danny Boy" which he did every St. Patrick's Day.

March 1, 2011: It was announced that Grand Ole Opry members Reba McEntire and Jean Shepard had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. For Jean, it was the culmination of a long career in country music.

March 2, 2012: Future Grand Ole Opry member Dustin Lynch made his first guest appearance on at the Grand Ole Opry. Dustin would join the Opry's cast in 2018.

March 6, 2012: Opry members Connie Smith and Garth Brooks were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

March 24, 2012: Carol Lee Cooper. the leader of the Carol Lee Singers, announced her retirement. Carol Lee originally came to the Opry with her parents, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper in 1957. Her retirement was the result of some voice and vocal issues that she had been experiencing.

March 5, 2013: The Grand Ole Opry honored Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins on the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that took their lives, along with pilot Randy Hughes. Among those taking part in the tribute were Jean Shepard, Terri Clark, Mandy Barnett, John Conlee and Chuck Mead.

March 14, 2013: Opry member Jack Greene passed away after a long illness. Jack, who was formally a member of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours, joined the Opry in December 1967. Jack always did a great job singing "There Goes My Everything" and "Statue of a Fool." Even in his later years, Jack never lost his great voice.

March 15, 2014: The Grand Ole Opry marked the 40th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry House with two special shows that featured Blake Shelton, Old Crow Medicine Show, Josh Turner, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Jimmy Dickens and Miranda Lambert.

March 6, 2017: It was announced that Sally Williams was promoted to the position of Senior Vice President of Programming & Artists Relations for Opry Entertainment and General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry. She previously had been the General Manager of the Ryman Auditorium.

March 11, 2017: Dailey & Vincent became the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. The bluegrass duo had been extended an invitation by Marty Stuart in December, upon their 100th guest appearance on the show.

March 20, 2018: Chris Janson became the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Chris had made over 100 guest appearances on the show and had always said that his dream was to some day become a member of the Opry's cast.

March 1, 2019: The Whites were honored upon their 35th anniversary as members of the Grand Ole Opry. Ricky Skaggs and Opry general manager Sally Williams joined in the salute.

March 2, 2019: Grand Ole Opry member Jesse McReynolds was recognized upon his 55th anniversary as an Opry member. Jesse, along with his brother Jim, joined the Opry's cast on March 2, 1964. While his brother passed away in 2002, Jesse has continued as an Opry member. Old Crow Medicine Show joined in the salute to Jesse.

March 5, 2019: The Grand Ole Opry invited Kelsea Ballerini to become a member of the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Her formal induction would take place the following month.

There you have it for this month. I hope a lot of those dates bring back some memories.

Tuesday Night Opry 3/10

The midweek shows continue.

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, March 10:

7:00: Bill Anderson; Rachel Wammack
7:30: Del McCoury Band; Hot Country Knights
8:15: Chris Janson; Henry Cho; Trace Akins

4 out of 7 Opry members. Not too bad.

Opry Country Classics, March 12:

Host: Larry Gatlin
Spotlight Artist: Oak Ridge Boys
Also Appearing: The Gatlin Brothers, Jimmy Fortune, Amber Digby

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Grand Ole Opry 3/6 & 3/7

So how is everyone feeling today? Based on all of the comments I have read, including those on Facebook and Twitter, Rhonda Vincent's invitation to be the next new member of the Grand Ole Opry might be the most popular decision that the Opry has made in many, many years. Personally, this should have happened a long time ago and I am very happy for Rhonda. I think it is safe to say that Dan Rogers in off to a great start with first, Gene Watson and now Rhonda Vincent becoming Opry members. It should be a great evening on Tuesday March 24.

As far as the Grand Ole Opry is looking this weekend, it is nice to see Jesse McReynolds listed on the schedule for Saturday night, in which he will be recognized upon his 56th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jesse, along with his late brother Jim, became Opry members on March 2, 1964. After Jim passed away in 2002, Jesse has continued on as a solo member. While recent health issues have limited some of Jesse's Opry appearances, hopefully he is well enough to make Saturday night's show.

Looking at the schedule, Opry members John Conlee, Mark Wills and Steve Wariner are scheduled for both Friday and Saturday night. On Friday night, that trio will be joined by The Whites, Connie Smith and Mike Snider, while on Saturday night, in addition to Jesse, Riders In The Sky, Bill Anderson, Bobby Osborne and Lorrie Morgan are listed. For Lorrie, this will be her first Opry show of 2020.

Blanco Brown is schedule to appear both nights this weekend, joined on Friday night by Sam Outlaw, Chonda Pierce, Sierra Hull and Brandy Clark. On Saturday night, in addition to Blanco, the guest artists include Rhett Akins, comedians Williams & Ree and Maddie & Tae.

Friday March 6
7:00: John Conlee (host); Sam Outlaw; Mike Snider
7:30: Mark Wills (host); The Whites; Blanco Brown
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Chonda Pierce; Sierra Hull
8:45: Steve Wariner (host); Brandy Clark

Saturday March 7
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mark Wills; Riders In The Sky
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Rhett Akins
8:15: Steve Wariner (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Blanco Brown; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Lorrie Morgan (host); Williams & Ree; Maddie & Tae

Of the 11 acts scheduled for the Friday Night Opry, 6 are Opry members, while 8 of the 12 acts on Saturday are members of the Opry's cast.

Hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this week will be George Hamilton V.

And now, here is the running order from 25 years ago, the first Saturday in March 1995:

Saturday March 4
1st show
6:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Bill Carlisle
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Skeeter Davis
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown; Jan Howard; The Whites
7:30: Billy Walker (host); Natalie Stovall; Jimmy C Newman; Mark Collie
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Hank Locklin; The Four Guys; Jack Greene; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jeannie Seely; Lorrie Morgan

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Charlie Louvin; Brother Oswald; Hank Locklin; The Whites
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Jean Shepard; Hal Ketchum
10:15: Lorrie Morgan (host); Roy Drusky
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky
10:45: Jimmy C Newman (host); Charlie Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); John Conlee; Mark Collie
11:30: Jack Greene (host); The Four Guys; Ricky Skaggs; Stu Phillips

From 50 years ago, Saturday March 7, 1970:

7:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jean Shepard; Ray Pillow; Stringbean
8:00: Lester Flatt (host): Loretta Lynn; Wilma Lee Cooper; Crook Brothers
8:30: Billy Walker (host); Dottie West; Earl Scruggs Revue; Stu Phillips; Lonzo and Oscar
9:00: George Morgan (host); Jim and Jesse; Grandpa Jones; Margie Bowes; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Del Reeves (host); Willis Brothers; Jeannie C. Riley; Hank Williams, Jr.
10:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jean Shepard; Stringbean; Ray Pillow
10:15: George Morgan (host); Loretta Lynn; George Lindsay; Stu Phillips
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); Dottie West; Wilma Lee Cooper; Lonzo and Oscar
10:45: Billy Walker (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Jim and Jesse; Crook Brothers
11:00: Willis Brothers (host); Grandpa Jones; Justin Tubb; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Margie Bowes; Sam McGee
11:30: Del Reeves (host); Jeannie C. Riley; Hank Williams, Jr.

March 7, 1964 was an important date in the history of the Grand Ole Opry as Jim and Jesse, along with Ernie Ashworth, made their first appearances as members of the Grand Ole Opry.

Raised near Coeburn, Virginia, Jesse McReynolds grew up in a family steeped in traditional mountain music. That background made it natural for him to follow the footsteps of his grandfather, Charlie McReynolds, who was one of the first musicians to record for Victor (later known as RCA) in Bristol, Virginia, in 1927.

In 1952, Jim and Jesse made their major-label debut on Capitol Records. In 1967, three years after joining the Opry, the duo had a Top 20 country hit with “Diesel on My Tail.”

“The first time we were on the Opry, we thought, ‘Gosh, think of all the people who’ve been here.’ I see all these young people come in now and just stand downstairs where so many big stars have been throughout the years. We were the same way — never dreamed we’d ever get to the Grand Ole Opry,” Jesse says.

The brother act recorded for several other labels, including their own Old Dominion Records, releasing such classics as “The Flame of Love,” “Cotton Mill Man,” and John Prine’s “Paradise.”
The duo regularly made the country charts from the ’60s through the ’80s, with such tunes as “Better Times A-Coming,” “Ballad of Thunder Road,” “Freight Train,” “North Wind,” and “Oh Louisiana.” They were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor in 1993.

Working with or without Jim, Jesse has performed in musical settings that cross a variety of genres. Jim and Jesse recorded one of the first bluegrass-rock crossovers in 1965, with their Chuck Berry tribute, Berry Pickin’ in the Country. In 1969, the Doors’ Jim Morrison picked Jesse to play mandolin on The Soft Parade. While working with banjoist Eddie Adcock, fiddler Kenny Baker and Dobro player Josh Graves, Jesse recorded during the late ’80s and early ’90s as part of the Masters supergroup.

Since completing what turned out to be the last album recorded with his brother, ‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered, Jesse built a new edition of his backup band, the Virginia Boys. Jesse recorded an instrumental album with fiddle wizard Travis Wetzel, and his 2007 album Dixie Road featured several originals, as well as masterful covers of songs including Helen Carter’s “The First One to Love You” and Dan Fogelberg’s “Run for the Roses.”

Having spent more than 60 years in music, Jesse, who will turn 91 later this year, still performs on the Grand Ole Opry has his health permits.

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Ernie Ashworth listened to the Grand Ole Opry as a youth in his native Huntsville, AL, and he began writing songs even before taking up the guitar. By 1948 he was playing in a band called the Tunetwisters and appearing on Huntsville radio station WBHP. Making the move to Nashville the following year, Ashworth earned a living as an early member of that city's fabled community of songwriters and performed on radio stations WLAC and WSIX. He became a staff writer for the Acuff-Rose publishing house, composing songs for such performers as Little Jimmy Dickens and Carl Smith and even crossing over to the pop sphere when he placed "I Wish" with rock & roll crooner Paul Anka. In 1955, Wesley Rose greased the wheels for Ashworth's signing to the MGM label as Billy Worth, but the six singles he cut for the label went nowhere on the charts. In 1957, Ashworth returned to Alabama and took a job at Huntsville's Redstone Arsenal missile plant.

Meanwhile, Rose remained determined to further Ashworth's music career and managed to get him signed to Decca in 1960. Now billed as Ernest Ashworth, he hit the Top Five with his first Decca single, "Each Moment (Spent With You)." That same year he scored a Top Ten hit with "You Can't Pick a Rose in December." In 1962, he signed with the Acuff-Rose-owned Hickory label and again hit the Top Five with "Everybody but Me." A year later, he had his only number one hit with the John D. Loudermilk-penned "Talk Back Trembling Lips." That song was tailor-made for Ashworth's vulnerable tenor voice. It propelled him to Most Promising Male Artist awards from Billboard and Cashbox magazines and to Grand Ole Opry membership in 1964. With further successes, such as the self-penned "I Love to Dance With Annie," Ashworth was a consistent hitmaker up to the release of 1970's "The Look of Goodbye." After four singles on the independent O'Brien label flopped, he retired to his farm in Lewisburg, TN, continuing to appear regularly on the Opry and occasionally touring the country. In 1989 he became the owner of Ardmore, TN, radio station WSLV, and his occasional recording releases in the 1990s found favor among tradition-minded European country listeners.

In his later years, Ernie would appear occasionally on the Grand Ole Opry while continuing to manage his radio stations. In 2008, he was elected to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

Ernie Ashworth passed away in March 2009.

Here is the best that I was able to put together as to the running order 56 years ago, the night Jim and Jesse, along with Ernie Ashworth made their first appearances as members of the Grand Ole Opry cast.

7:30: Luzianne
Jimmy Newman (host): Alligator Man
Wilburn Brothers: (?)
Marion Worth: You Took Him Off My Hands
Stringbean: Little Pink
Jimmy Newman: D.J. For A Day
Del Wood: Waiting for the Robert E Lee
Merle Kilgore: (?)
Wilburn Brothers: (?)
Jimmy Newman: Six Days on the Road

8:00: Martha White
Flatt and Scruggs (host): (?)
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Glaser Brothers: (?)
Ernest Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Flatt and Scruggs: (?)
Ray Pillow: (?)
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Glaser Brothers: (?)
Flatt and Scruggs: (?)

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Low & Lonely
June Stearns: (?)
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Each Season Changes You
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Roy Acuff: The End of the World
Hank Williams, Jr: Long Gone Lonesome Blues
Brother Oswald: My Curly Headed Baby
Howdy Forrester: Soldiers Joy
Roy Acuff: Mothers Only Sleeping

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): (?)
Jean Shepard: (?)
Billy Walker: Forever
Jim and Jesse: (?)
Ernest Tubb: (?)
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Ida Red
Cousin Jody: I Suffered More Than You'll Ever Know
Jean Shepard: (?)
Ernest Tubb: (?)

9:30: Kellogg's
Leroy Van Dyke (host): (?)
Dottie West: (?)
The Carter Family: (?)
The Browns: (?)
Leroy Van Dyke: (?)
Wilburn Brothers: (?)

10:00: Schick
Jimmy Newman (host): The Mover
Stringbean: (?)
Wilburn Brothers: (?)

10:15: SSS Tonic
Flatt and Scruggs (host): (?)
Marion Worth: He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not
Del Wood: Queenie of the Town
Flatt and Scruggs: (?)

10:30: Harvey's
Roy Acuff (host): (?)
Skeeter Davis: He Says the Same Things to Me
Ernest Ashworth: A Week in the County Jail
Roy Acuff: (?)
Howdy Forrester and Jimmy Riddle: Black Mountain Rag

10:45: Ford
Ernest Tubb (host): (?)
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: I Wanna Be Loved
Crook Brothers: Lafayette
Ernest Tubb: (?)
Stoney Cooper: Canadian Reel

11:00: Coca Cola
Leroy Van Dyke (host): (?)
Jean Shepard: (?)
Billy Walker: Charlie's Shoes
Glaser Brothers: (?)
Leroy Van Dyke: (?)
Hank Williams, Jr: Cold, Cold Heart
Sam McGee: Dear Old Southern Home
Glaser Brothers: (?)
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Leroy Van Dyke: (?)

11:30: Gretsch Guitars
Marty Robbins (host): (?)
The Browns: (?)
Willis Brothers: Private Lee
Jim and Jesse: (?)
Marty Robbins: (?)
Cousin Jody: Cripple Creek
Don Winters: (?)
Willis Brothers: Everlovin' Dixieland
Marty Robbins: (?)

To finish it up, Opry Country Classics returns on Thursday March 5 with Chris Young, T.G. Sheppard, Maggie Rose, Mandy Barnett and The Swon Brothers listed. I did not see any host or spotlight artist highlighted.

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Grand Ole Opry this weekend.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Tuesday Night Opry 3/3

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, March 3

7:00: Craig Morgan; Matt Stell
7:30: Dailey & Vincent; Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots
8:15: Tommy Emmanuel; Dustin Lynch
8:45: The Isaacs; Trace Adkins

A nice looking show with 4 of the 8 artists being Opry members.

Wonder if they will tape Bobby Bones and have his performance a part of The Circle's Opry show? After all, he is the host.